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Family Grateful to Survive Deadly Collision

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Jeff Cato says as hard as the experience was, he's glad he was able to learn from those who gave the family love and support. Jeff Cato says as hard as the experience was, he's glad he was able to learn from those who gave the family love and support.
Friends sign the casts of a Cato child as she lies in a hospital bed. Friends sign the casts of a Cato child as she lies in a hospital bed.
A group of OSU football players came and prayed with the family. A group of OSU football players came and prayed with the family.

By Amy McRee, NEWS 9

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- An Edmond family is grateful they all lived through to see the New Year after they were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle.

"You don't quite realize what all is going on, but we know we got to get out of the car," Jeff Cato said. "I remember Stacey making the comment, 'We got to get the kids out of the car'."

All five members of the Cato family made it out of the car injured but alive. The other driver, 79-year-old Joseph Walker Seargent Jr., died at the scene.

"It was so bad," Jeff Cato said. "There were some other people who came up there on the scene looking into it, while we were trying to get our kids off the road and into safety, and there were just strangers that came up and threw blankets on our kids."

The ambulance came, but there wasn't...a way to get all of us to one place," Stacey Cato said.

Two of the family members were taken to OU Medical Center, while the others went to Seminole.

"When your babies are going somewhere else, it's kind of scary," Stacey Cato said.

Stacey and her husband quickly discovered they would not go through this traumatic experience alone.

A sea of family, friends and strangers assembled at the hospital. As word spread of the holiday car crash, an outpouring was seen.

"What we would view the church is all about and what people are all about," Jeff Cato said. "That is in times of great need that people rise to the occasion and ultimately, at the end of the day, love wins out."

Through surprise visits, like the medical helicopter crew who stopped by on Christmas Eve, to the Oklahoma State University football players who rallied around Caleb in prayer, the children fought to recover.

Their grandparents flew in and got to see their grandchildren on Christmas after all.

As the Cato family looks forward to another year together, they said the experience, no matter how difficult, could not be traded for anything.

"When we look in '09, we say we can never pay back what people have given us," Jeff Cato said. "There's just no way that we'll ever be able to do that. If we can pay it forward, then that's what we want to do."

While all five Cato's suffered bumps and bruises, only 11-year-old Ashton walked away with no broken bones or other major injuries. Ironically, just 10 minutes before they crashed Ashton was not wearing her seat belt. Her mom noticed and told her to put it on, so when they crashed all of them were buckled in.

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